The travel industry faces another tough year, according to predictions from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).
In a new report called Industries in 2021, the organisation forecasts: “Global international arrivals in 2022 will remain 30 per cent below 2019 levels.”
Asia will see the slowest recovery, the analysts say, with a decline of almost 40 per cent predicted relative to pre-pandemic levels.
One reason leisure travel will remain well below 2019 numbers is the complexity around health certification.
The report says: “The lack of harmonised rules will hold back the recovery in international tourism in 2022.”
Business travel “will remain particularly depressed” – partly because companies are concerned about putting their employees at risk, partly to cut costs and partly to minimise the environmental impact of journeys.
But the EIU says: “Some travel will be necessary to bolster relationships with clients and to shore up shaky supply chains.”
As a result of diminished demand, “airlines will need to increase ticket prices in a bid to restore their finances”. Despite this, aviation will rack up another combined loss – estimated by the International Air Transport Association (Iata) at $11.6bn (£8.4bn).
The report says: “Cost-cutting measures will intensify. Eventually, airline mergers are likely, with knock-on effects for regional airports.”
Tourist taxes will add to higher travel costs, the EIU says.
“Increased focus on sustainability will see some major tourist destinations cap daily visitor numbers (notably in the Italian city of Venice) or impose a tourist tax.
“Thailand will impose a US$15 [£11] tax in 2022; New Zealand is likely to adopt a similar approach.” Despite the tax, Thailand is hoping for a strong recovery in international arrivals in 2022. But the report says: “We expect any recovery to be modest and significantly below pre-pandemic levels.
“A trial programme launched in July 2021, the Phuket Sandbox scheme, fell woefully short of the 100,000 visitors it had hoped to attract.”
The one bright spot is the cruise industry, with a forecast that the market will actually expand to 31.7 million passengers, up from 27.8 million in 2019.
“However, it will be a shaky ride, with the possibility of coronavirus outbreaks on board or at ports posing significant risks,” the report says.
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